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Best of Peru & Bolivia

Peru, Bolivia

15 days

Summary

From the dark-blue Pacific to the snow-capped Andes, the Best of Peru & Bolivia journeys through the awe-inspiring heartland of these neighbouring yet diverse destinations on this classic trip-of-a-lifetime.

Start in Lima, the ‘City of Kings’ and the ‘Gastronomic Capital of the Americas’, where lost civilisations and pleasing palates meet. Uncover the wellspring of life itself within the Amazon, where the real wild things are. Next, bask in the fertile Sacred Valley by the burbling Urubamba river. Later, explore the glorious Inca citadel of Machu Picchu with an expert guide. Afterwards, ramble through the humanity-worn cobblestone streets of ancient Cuzco. Then, cross the beautifully brutal Altiplano saddled between towering cordilleras to the birthplace of the Sun, Lake Titicaca. Meet people who have culturally unified Peru & Bolivia across its deep cerulean waters since time immemorial. Last but not least, ascend to the quirky city of La Paz, an urban pastiche in the sky.

*This suggested tour was created by our specialist team to inspire you. With Contours Travel you have the flexibility to alter this itinerary to suit your timeframe and budget. Add or change any location, excursion or accommodation.

Highlights

  • Enjoy a two night stay in an Amazon Jungle Lodge for an excellent chance to spot wildlife
  • Visit Ollantaytambo, Chincheros & Moray in the Sacred Valley of the Incas
  • First Class Vistadome Train tickets to Machu Picchu
  • Stay longer in Machu Picchu, overnight in Aguas Calientes
  • Take an overland bus from Cuzco to Puno with stops along the way & traditional lunch
  • Take a boat across Lake Titicaca, the highest lake in the world to Uros Island (option to visit Taquile Islands too)

ITINERARY

Day 1 Lima

Arrive at Lima Airport where our English speaking local guide will meet you and transfer you to your hotel located in the seaside barrio of Miraflores.

Day 2 Lima

Depart this morning on a half-day sightseeing tour of Lima. Your tour includes the city’s most important monuments: The Plaza Mayor, Government Palace, the City Hall and the Cathedral. Torre Tagle, a gorgeous mansion built in 1735, today houses the offices of the Foreign Affairs Ministry. Nearby, the recently renovated Palacio de Osambela, built between 1803 and 1805, serves as a venue for art exhibitions and cultural events.
Later visit the Larco Herrera Museum which hosts the most important archaeological collection of the north coast of Peru. The museum is in an old Vice Royal mansion constructed on a pre-Columbian pyramid from the 18th century. This fabulous museum also has an exquisite collection of gold and silver of ancient Peru and a room full of erotic art. The pieces in this museum are now world-famous after having been exhibited in the best museums around the world. Transfer back to your hotel at the end of the tour.

Day 3 Lima/Puerto Maldonado

Transfer to the airport for your flight to Puerto Maldonado. Upon arrival, a guide from your hotel will be waiting for you for a transfer to the lodge. Take a ten-minute drive to Puerto Maldonado headquarters. Once you arrive at Tambopata River Port, you will take a forty-five-minute boat ride to Posada Amazonas situated in the Community’s Primary Forest Private Reserve.
Upon arrival, the lodge manager will welcome you and brief you with important navigation and security tips. Explore the lodge and the surroundings, or choose to do a twenty-minute walk from Posada Amazonas leads to the 30-meter scaffolding canopy tower. A bannister staircase running through the middle provides safe access to the platforms above. From atop you will obtain spectacular views of the vast expanses of standing forest. Now and then toucans, parrots or macaws can be seen flying against the horizon.

Day 4 Puerto Maldonado

Lake Tres Chimbadas is thirty minutes by boat and forty five minutes hiking from Posada Amazonas. Once there you will paddle around the lake in a catamaran, searching for the resident family of nine giant river otters (seen by 60% of lake visitors) and other lakeside wildlife such as caiman, hoatzin and horned screamers. Otters are most active from dawn to eight or nine in the morning.
You could also visit the Parrot Clay Lick. This clay lick is only a twenty-minute walk from Posada Amazonas. Species such as Mealy and Yellow-headed Amazon, Blue-headed Parrot and Dusky headed Parakeet descend at this clay lick. The clay lick is active at dawn, during the late mornings and mid-afternoons.
Another option is an Ethnobotanical Tour. This tour is a twenty-minute boat drive downriver that leads you to a trail designed by the staff of the Centro Ñape. The Centro Ñape is a communal organization that produces medicines out of forest plants and administers them to patients who choose their little clinic.
You will also have the option of hiking out at night when most of the mammals are active but rarely seen.

Day 5 Puerto Maldonado/Sacred Valley

Retrace your river and road journey back to Puerto Maldonado and to the airport for your flight to Cuzco. On arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. The Sacred Valley is a great place to spend your first few days acclimatizing as it is at 2,7000m.a.s.l., before moving up to the more challenging heights of Cuzco (3,400m).

Day 6 Sacred Valley

Discover the best of the Sacred Valley of the Incas through this full-day tour starting on the Inca’s Balcony. It is a beautiful place with an impressive view of Chinchero ruins and city. Here, twelve families still preserve their traditional mores, and you will have the opportunity to see the ancestral way in which they process the wool, and obtain those vivid colours for their textiles.
Later, arrive at Moray, an impressing pre-Inca greenhouse, followed by lunch at a local restaurant. Continue to Ollantaytambo, one of the most monumental architectural complexes of the ancient Inca Empire and one of the few places where the Spanish conquistadors lost a major battle. Very well known for its ‘andenes’ (terraces dug into the slopes of mountains for agricultural purposes), Ollantaytambo was a highly effective fortress that also served as a temple. Then, walk around the town of Ollantaytambo, with its narrow cobblestone streets that have been continuously inhabited since the 13th century.

Day 7 Sacred Valley/Machu Picchu

Transfer to the train station in Ollantaytambo for your 90-minute Vistadome train ride to Machu Picchu, the most famous example of Inca architecture. Today’s visit to magical Machu Picchu will undoubtedly be a highlight of your trip!
Enjoy a guided tour of the ruins & lunch at Sanctuary Lodge before taking a mini-bus back to Aguas Calientes where you will overnight.

Day 8 Machu Picchu/Cuzco

Enjoy a second, unguided visit to Machu Picchu. Book early to secure an entry to climb Huayna Picchu for stunning views. This afternoon travel to Cuzco by train.

Day 9 Cuzco

Today, enjoy a half-day sightseeing tour of Cuzco. Visit the Cathedral and Koricancha Temple, before continuing to MAP (Pre-Colombian Art Museum) with its impressive collection of archaeological pieces. Finally, head out of the city to the surrounding ruins of Sacsayhuaman, Kenko, Puca-Pucara and Tambomachay. The Cuzco Tourist Ticket, which gives you access to sixteen sites in and around Cuzco, is included in today’s tour.

Day 10 Cuzco

Day at leisure to relax and explore Cuzco on your own. We recommend a stroll up to the artisan’s district of San Blas to visit the pretty adobe Iglesia San Blas and explore some of the handicraft workshops nearby. Despite its simple exterior San Blas Church contains one of the most impressive colonial jewels in the country- an intricately carved 17th-century cedar pulpit hewn from a single tree trunk and dominated by the triumphant figure of Christ.

Day 11 Cuzco/Puno

Depart by bus this morning on a full-day tour across the altiplano to Puno, situated on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Entry fees to local sites along the way included. This daily service from Cuzco to Puno steadily climbs up the Vilcanota Valley towards the headwaters of the Urubamba River and the highest point of the trip, Abra La Raya at 4,321m.a.s.l. From Abra La Raya, it is a gradual descent into the opening grassy plains towards Lake Titicaca and towards the Bolivian Altiplano and eventually down to Puno, on the edge of the lake.

Day 12 Puno

Depart this morning on a half-day tour out to the famous Uros Islands. After a short 20-minute trip out of Puno harbour, arrive at the floating islands of Uros. Here, 300 Uros Indians live and fish on the human-made islands made entirely of totora reeds that grow in the lake. Enjoy the colourful traditional dress of the men and women and perhaps take a ride in s surprisingly stable totora canoe before returning to your hotel.

Day 13 Puno/La Paz

You will be met at your hotel this morning (approx. 06:30am) and depart from Puno on a tour travelling around Lake Titicaca and across the border into Bolivia. Please make sure you have your passport ready for Immigration. You will visit the town of Copacabana, and it’s beautiful Cathedral before boarding the catamaran for Sun Island. Arriving at the southern end of Sun Island, disembark and visit the Inca Garden and Stairs, the Inti Wati Complex and experience a Kallawaya Ancient Ceremony.
You will also have the opportunity to see a replica of the reed boats once used by the Aymara Indians and see a demonstration of how these ingenious boats plied the water. Visit the Pilkokaina Inca Ruins before boarding the catamaran and sitting down to a delicious buffet lunch. Sail to Chua, where you will disembark and continue the rest of your journey to La Paz by road, arriving at around 7:30 pm this evening at your hotel.

Day 14 La Paz

Depart this morning on a half-day sightseeing tour of La Paz, including the city’s fantastic street markets, rich in handicrafts, weavings and witchcraft artefacts. Visit the colonial part of the city, including San Francisco Church, the Gold Museum, Murillo Square and the outdoor replica of the Tiahuanaco temple, before continuing to the new part of town. Finally, admire the natural geological formations of the Valley of the Moon.

Day 15 La Paz

Transfer to the airport for your onward flight or ask us about extending with an unforgettable trip across the Uyuni Salt Plains.

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